Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Senate Ways and Means budget

The Senate Ways and Means Committee released their FY18 budget today. You can find the executive summary here, along with the ability to download the rest of the budget.

A few foundation budget notes first: in the outside section, the FBRC implementation committee (for lack of a better term) is set up:
Section 5B½. (a) Annually, not later than January 15, the secretary of administration and finance shall meet with the senate and house committees on ways and means to jointly determine an implementation schedule to fulfill the recommendations filed on November 2, 2015 by the foundation budget review commission established in section 4 of chapter 70. The implementation schedule shall establish a foundation budget as defined in section 2 of said chapter 70 incorporating the categories of tuitioned-out special education rate, assumed in-school special education enrollment, low-income increment, low-income enrollment, foundation benefits, retired employee health insurance and English language learner increment; provided, however, that in the first year of the term of office of a governor who has not served in the preceding year, the parties shall determine an implementation schedule not later than January 31 of that year. In determining the implementation schedule, the secretary of administration and finance and the senate and house committees on ways and means shall hold a public hearing and receive testimony from the commissioner of elementary and secondary education and other interested parties. The schedule may be amended by agreement of the senate and house committees on ways and means in any fiscal year to reflect changes in enrollment, inflation, student populations or other factors that may affect the remaining costs in the schedule. The implementation schedule may be included in a joint resolution and placed before the members of the general court for their consideration along with proposed legislation to execute and implement the schedule. The implementation schedule shall be subject to appropriation.
That's important, because that's the part that really makes it happen. If they have to get together and publicly decide every year "here's where we are; here's where we're going," then this becomes something that we're all in on making happen.

And while we're on outside sections, the ongoing "how we we count poor kids" back and forth continues:
SECTION 74. Notwithstanding section 10 of chapter 70B of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, in determining the grant percentage for approved school projects for calendar year 2017 and calendar year 2018, the Massachusetts School Building Authority shall calculate the community poverty factor for each school facilities project Senate Committee on Ways and Means Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Recommendations using the fiscal year 2014 proportion of low-income students, as determined by the department of elementary and secondary education.
That's now four years out of date; at some point, we're going to want another solution.

In terms of funding for this year, the big news from the Senate side is they're moving on the FBRC recommendations not only on the health insurance side (where they follow the Governor's numbers, not the House's, which were larger), but they're also implementing the special education recommendation: entirely for in-district (moving from 3.75% to 4% for most districts, to 5% for vokes), and 15% for out-of-district. What that means for any individual district is going to vary, based on how big your enrollment (and thus your count) is, and how much of any increase is going to come to your district in Ch. 70 aid. As always, whether this makes any difference in your budget is going to depend on if your budget was over minimum to begin with.

There is also a $30/pupil minimum increase (They stuck to the House number there).

The ELL Gateway Cities grant is cut in half from the House budget (from $1M to $500,000).

DESE's line gets a boost, but it looks like earmarks.

METCO gets about $124,000 less than in the House.

It looks like they've merged a few of the early reading lines and given them a bit of a boost (Bay State Reading Institute, Reading Recovery).

School-to-career connecting activities goes from $1M in the House to $2.6M in the Senate.

Adult ed from $28M in the House W&M to $30M in the Senate W&M.

Regional transportation reimbursement is $61M in the Senate ($62M in the House).

McKinney-Vento reimbursement is the same ($8.3M).

For AP's, the Senate gives a dollar more ($2,673,000 versus $2,672,999)

The lunch account is the same $5.4M but the breakfast one is down a bit ($4.4M from $4.6M).

As suggested above, Chapter 70 aid overall is up from the House Ways and Means budget ($4,734,405,553 in the House; $4,756,814,887 in the Senate). That's a difference of $22,409,334.

There is NOT an economically disadvantaged switch pothole account in the Senate budget.

The circuit breaker, if I heard Senator Spilka correctly, is, the Senate believes, fully funded at $293M. It was $281M in the House.

The Senate includes $1.3M in federal impact-related aid that the House did not have.

Charter school reimbursement is the same $80.5M.

The Senate puts back in $300,000 for innovation schools.

Now this is interesting: the Senate's budget puts assessment (think of it as the MCAS line item) at $27M as against the House's $31M.

The Senate adds back in $400,000 for the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment pilot (neither the House nor the Governor funded that).

Targeted intervention up a bit to $7.4M, but the difference looks to be an earmark.

Extended learning time stays at $17.1M.

After school programs up a million ($1.4M to $2.5M), and while there is an earmark, it doesn't look like all of it.

Safe and supportive schools from $200,000 to $500,000.

Mass Mentorship from $400,000 to $600,000.

$150,000 for sexual abuse prevention.

And a mysterious "regional bonus aid" line of $65,000 which was not in the House budget; the citation is for a bonus in funding when a district regionalizes.

Amendments are due later this week; updates as warranted!

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